UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has rejected an invitation from Labour’s sister party in Israel to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, citing a busy schedule for the snub. Instead, he is offering to send either deputy leader Tom Watson or general secretary Iain McNicol for the long-planned November visit.
Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labour party, made the offer in April, in the days after former London mayor Ken Livingstone made a series of controversial remarks linking Hitler and Zionism. Mr. Herzog said he was “appalled” by Livingstone’s assertion that when Hitler won his 1932 election, “his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel”.
As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, just weeks after Mr. Livingstone became embroiled in controversy over those remarks he again ignited debate when he called the creation of Israel “fundamentally wrong”, and “a great catastrophe”. The existence of the Jewish state in the Middle East, he said, could ultimately lead to nuclear war.
According to the Guardian, Mr. Corbyn was invited to Yad Vashem “to witness that the last time the Jews were forcibly transported it was not to Israel but to their deaths”.
The newspaper reports Joan Ryan MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, accused Mr. Corbyn of a failure of leadership which would fuel debate about his views on the Middle East.
“I’m very disappointed Jeremy turned down the invitation to visit Israel from our sister party. Given the deep concerns about his commitment to a two-state solution, his labelling of terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’, and the allegations of antisemitism which have occurred on his watch, such a visit should have been a priority,” Ryan said.
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, was also critical, saying: “It is not surprising that Jeremy Corbyn is not viewed as a potential prime minister by the public when he cannot handle diplomatic issues like this. This shows why so many people think he is not fit to be prime minister and why many Labour voters would prefer Theresa May.”
In July a press conference called to announce that an inquiry found the Labour Party is “not overrun” by anti-Semitism dissolved into chaos after Mr. Corbyn compared the Israeli government to Islamic State, and a Jewish MP fled the room in tears after being accused of conspiring with the “right wing press”.
The inquiry, undertaken by Shami Chakrabarti, was commissioned in April by the party as a response to numerous allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour at all levels. It was sparked by the suspension of Bradford MP Naz Shah for her suggestion, posted to Facebook, that Israelis be deported to America.
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